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  • Writer's pictureChris Broadfoot

A Journey to Spain: Coaching Young Athletes Abroad

As the host of the Overseas Athlete Podcast, I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Kerwin, a seasoned coach with a decade of experience in youth development in Australia. Our conversation revolved around his recent venture of coaching young athletes in Spain, a journey filled with challenges, rewards, and invaluable lessons.

  • The Decision to Explore Abroad

Kerwin's decision to explore opportunities abroad was driven by the limited prospects for young players to turn professional in Australia. His extensive research led him to Spain, a country renowned for its robust football culture. He envisioned his players not only participating in friendlies and tournaments but also experiencing the full professional environment, including federation competitions and trials with top Spanish academies.

  • The Program: A Season-Long Commitment

The program involved a season-long commitment of ten and a half months, during which the players would live in Spain, train daily, and participate in field sessions, gym sessions, video analysis, and position-specific group sessions. Kerwin discussed the challenges and rewards of taking 17 kids to live and train in Europe for an extended period. He emphasised the importance of creating opportunities for the players and ensuring their parents felt assured.

  • Coping with Homesickness

Kerwin shared that initially, the boys were excited and enjoyed the freedom from parental nagging. However, as the colder weather set in and homesickness crept in, he had to have regular conversations with certain boys to check on their well-being. Despite some challenges, the boys supported each other and formed strong bonds.

  • Adapting to the Spanish Way of Life

Kerwin mentioned that he now has a better understanding of the Spanish culture and daily routines, such as the late dinner times and siestas. He explained that the boys eventually adapted to the Spanish way of life and even started taking siestas before training.

  • The Daily Routine at the Academy

Kerwin detailed the daily routine of the young athletes at the academy, which included football training sessions, Spanish classes, video analysis sessions, gym sessions, and free time for activities like getting haircuts or shopping for snacks. He emphasised the importance of balancing football and education.

  • The Academy: A Family-Like Environment

Kerwin shared some insights about the positive experiences the parents had when they visited the academy. The CEO and psychologist took the time to meet with the parents individually and provide feedback about their sons. Kerwin mentioned that the academy fosters a family-like environment, where older boys help younger boys and vice versa.

  • Training with Bigger Clubs and Academies

Kerwin talked about the opportunities that the young athletes in his program have had to train with bigger clubs and academies in Spain. He mentioned two 17-year-olds who were doing well and got invited to train with a second-division professional team. He emphasised the importance of these experiences for the players' development.

  • The Cost and Process of Joining the Program

Kerwin explained that the program is full-time and includes expenses such as visas, Spanish classes, accommodation, and food. The academy provides transportation, a full-time psychologist, and different team options based on the player's skill level. The goal is to secure a professional contract for the player, but semi-pro contracts or American scholarships are also options.

Final Thoughts

Our conversation with Kerwin was insightful, revealing the challenges and rewards of coaching young athletes abroad. His dedication to providing opportunities for his players and his commitment to their well-being is truly inspiring. As we wrapped up our conversation, we both expressed our enthusiasm for the program and the opportunities it offers. I look forward to keeping in touch with Kerwin and following his journey in Spain.

Listen to the full episode here:

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